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RST: Provenance of Islamic Influences on Latin Cisine

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RST: Provenance of Islamic Influences on Latin Cisine

JeffB | Jan 9, 2003 12:32 PM

On New Year's Eve I supped on some of my in-law's knockout Guatemalteca tamales with her super-hot salsa cocida (not at all chunky, with a smooth, even consistency; contains carrots and olive oil in addition to more familiar salsa ingredients and tiny "bird" peppers). Anyway, the tamales' contents included, along with chunks of pork and turkey "enchiladas," capers, almonds, raisins and perhaps some other dried fruits. (Of course it was all encased in good masa and wrapped in a banana leaf.) I wondered whether the old world ingredients are a vestige Spanish colonialism or a product of the later Middle-Eastern immigration to Central America to which you often allude. Since you are so erudite in these matters, and I am so lazy, I thought I'd start with you. (BTW, my one faux pas of the evening was to ask whether the turkey was chicken. I was informed, somewhat gravely under the circumstances, that no Guatemalan would serve common yardbird to a guest in her home, especially in a holiday tamal. Turkey yes, but chicken, no. Oops.)

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